When the Raptors took the NBA championship title, not just Toronto, but the entire country rose to its feet in jubilation. It was one of those all-too-rare moments when Canadians from coast to coast to coast united to celebrate Canada.
By nature, we’re a very modest people. We’re proud of Canada, but we don’t like to crow about it. We’re happier when other countries praise Canada for things like our health care system, our extensive rights and freedoms, our strong democracy, the integrity of our justice system, our welcome of immigrants and refugees, our sense fairness and inclusion, our peaceful communities – the list could go on.
Outside Canada these things may seem enviable, but we know challenges exist within each of these systems. And we know Canada is not perfect. A stark example is our failure to recognize the sovereignty of Indigenous Nations, including on Turtle Island.
Another is the right-wing Quebec government’s offensive law making criminals of public servants who wear symbols of their faith at work. The legislation runs contrary, not only to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but Quebec’s own Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. This shameful assault on the essential dignity and respect owed every human being must not be allowed in Quebec, Ontario or anywhere else in Canada or the world.
And right here in Ontario, Doug Ford and his Tories are doing their level best to torpedo justice, inclusion and equality. OPSEU has been fighting them every inch of the way. But the people of Ontario see through the beer foam and recognize these attacks on our core values. That’s why two million people from all across Ontario loudly booed Doug Ford at the Raptors’ victory parade: his destructive agenda is quintessentially un-Canadian. Perhaps that’s why he’s cancelled Canada Day celebrations at Queen’s Park for the first time in more than 50 years. This is a sad and disturbing state of affairs.
Yet organizations who promote social justice – organizations like OPSEU – are fighting back. This July 1, when we wave the flag, let us do so with the hope of how much better Canada can be.
OPSEU thanks each and every public sector worker for the contributions they make to our communities, our province and our country. Quality public services are the great Canadian equalizer, and they’re worth fighting for.
From our families to yours, we wish you a very happy Canada Day!
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer